IANS

Harmanpreet Kaur's India clinched their place in the semifinals of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup, beating Ireland in a must-win match by via D/L Method in a rain-interrupted match.

Having lost to England in a crucial Group B match, India had to beat Ireland on Monday to seal their place in the last four. They managed to put up a decent score of 155/6 in their 20 overs. Ireland were 54/2 in 8.2 overs when rain stopped play. India eventually won the match as Ireland fell short of the revised target by five runs.

Ireland made a solid recovery after two early blows but were behind the DLS par score by five runs as rain interrupted proceedings in Gqeberha.

A mix-up on the very first ball saw Hunter run at the wicketkeeper's end and Renuka Singh followed up her terrific new ball spell against England by cleaning up Prendergast to put India right on top early on in the second innings.

Gaby Lewis and Laura Delany joined hands, and the pair did remarkably well to not let the required run rate climb too high, taking the team to 44/2 in the Powerplay. However, the rain came down in Gqeberha, putting a halt on Ireland's recovery and worryingly for them, they fell behind the DLS par score by five runs.

Earlier, Smriti Mandhana hammered a 56-ball 87 but the others failed to contribute big scores as India had to be satisfied with 155/6 in their 20 overs.

Opener Mandhana was at her best on Monday, creaming her drives early on, before clearing the fence three times to up the ante through the middle overs.

Ireland could only send her back in the 19th over and soon followed it up with the wicket of Deepti Sharma on the next ball to peg India back pretty late.

India opted to bat first after winning the toss and got off to a good start with Mandhana playing some crisp strokes. The openers put on a half-century stand before Shafali Verma fell for 24 with Amy Hunter taking a good, low catch in the deep.

Walking in at No.3, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur completed 3000 runs in T20Is, becoming the fourth women's cricketer to the landmark in this format. She forged a strong stand with Mandhana, who completed her half-century with a thumping six over mid-wicket.

Harmanpreet fell in the 16th over, with Orla Prendergast taking a stunner running in from the deep. Laura Delany added another wicket in the same over, sending back Richa Ghosh for a duck to complete a three-wicket haul.

Ireland, meanwhile, haven't quite been able to replicate the performance that saw them triumph against Australia in the warm-up match. They have lost all three matches so far but will hope to test the Indian line-up to notch up their first win at the Women's T20 World Cup.

Harmanpreet Kaur and her team could have taken control of Group 2 and put one foot in the semi-finals with a win over England.

But the failed attempt to chase down 152 temporarily left India's fate out of their own hands.

But they were handed a huge boost when West Indies successfully defended 116 to beat Pakistan on Sunday. England booked their qualification with that result, and now India clinched their spot by beating Ireland despite the rain interruption.

Brief scores:

India 155/6 in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 87, Shafali Verma 24; Laura Delany 3-33, Orla Prendergast 2-22) beat Ireland 54/2 in 8.2 overs (Gaby Lewis 32 not out, Laura Delany 19 not out) by five runs (DL Method).
 

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